WASHINGTON, March 16, 2013 ― Sen. Rand Paul won the CPAC presidential preference poll on Saturday, narrowly defeating his fellow senator, Marco Rubio of Florida. Paul came into CPAC riding a wave of national fame after his thirteen-hour filibuster of the nomination of now-CIA Director John Brennan.
Twenty-five percent of the 2,930 attendants at the convention cast their vote for the junior Senator from Kentucky. Marco Rubio took a close second at 23 percent, far ahead of former Sen. Rick Santorum at 8 percent.
The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) concludes each year with its ever-popular and influential straw poll. This year, the survey was co-sponsored by the Washington Times and was conducted by Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates.
Sen. Rand Paul is the son of Ron Paul, the three-time presidential candidate and retired Congressman. The elder Paul had previously won the CPAC poll in 2010 and 2011, before losing to Mitt Romney last year in the midst of their primary contest with Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich.
Four weeks ago, Rubio found himself on the front of Time magazine, labeled the “savior” of the Republican Party. Now, a month removed from that hagiographic treatment, Rubio’s status as the GOP’s favorite rising star has been eclipsed—at least for now.
While the presidential preference poll receives the bulk of the attention, the survey includes other questions as well. Over forty percent of this year’s CPAC attendees were students.
In response to Paul’s recent filibuster, Sen. John McCain quoted a Wall Street Journal op-ed on the Senate floor, claiming that Paul was merely attracting the attention of “impressionable libertarian kids in college dorms.” McCain may need to reassess the situation; if those impressionable young kids are willing to make the trip to CPAC, they’re probably willing to walk down the street to their nearest polling place come 2016.
In his address to the convention on Thursday, Paul proclaimed that the “Facebook generation could detect falseness and hypocrisy from a mile away,” indicating his understanding of the influence of young people in modern politics.
Furthermore, 77 percent of attendants revealed that their greatest concern was promoting individual freedom by reducing government intrusion. This also fits in well with Rand Paul’s message—a focus on fiscal issues and civil liberties, with a respect for every individual’s right to decide their own course of action when it comes to social morality.
The presidential preference poll listed 23 potential candidates, as well as the option for write-ins. Ted Cruz, who will deliver the closing keynote address at CPAC 2013, finished with 4 percent of the vote behind Gov. Scott Walker at 5 percent. Chris Christie, who was not invited to speak at the event—a decision which left many scratching their heads—finished in fourth place with 7 percent of the vote.
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